An Overview Of Japan’s Environmental Issues And Policies

Japan Environment Issues

Japan is an East Asian Country comprising of four main islands and thousands of other small islands. This sovereign island nation is located on the Northern Coast of Pacific Asia. Surprisingly, only 18 % of Japans’ land is suitable for settlement, a reason the population of this great nation is clustered in the central cities.

One major reason as to why Japan will always remain in our minds and tongues is because of Tokyo; World’s Largest Urban Center in the entire world. More unbelievable is that, Tokyo, which happens to be the capital city of Japan, is also the home to 36 million people. That is real incredible! It is more than the total population of several other nations.

The Society of Japan had remained isolated for years until 1853 when Matthew C. Perry, a Navy Commodore from the United States sailed all the way to Tokyo Bay officially opening the Japanese to the West. As from the Mid-19th Century, the Japanese adopted a new policy – Embracing rapid economic growth and aggressive industrialization.

Today as we speak, Japan is the 3rd largest economy in the world despite having survived a series of financial crisis in the 1990s. Motor vehicle production, steel & other metals, and industrial tools are the primary drivers of the Japanese Economy. Also, the country boasts of modest agriculture, rice growing, sugar beets, no forgetting some vegetables and fruits. Fishing and beef industries are also some of the prominent sectors of the economy of this East Asian Nation.

Environmental Issues Facing Japan

Even though Japan is one of the countries that have taken a bold step regarding responsiveness to environmental issues and overall cleanliness, industrial activities and agriculture still pose some environmental challenges. Waste management is the biggest environmental problem in Japan.

Despite the fact that Japan is a tiny island nation where there is not much room, a lot of trash is disposed of. In a move to reduce the waste, municipal government decided to use their facilities and burn the waste. Little did they realize that was the beginning of another problem – Air pollution.

Environmental Issues Facing Japan

As air pollution became a threat again, the government adopted aggressive recycling to curb the problem. According to the 2010 review by the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), there is a need for Japan to put more measures to cut down on waste.

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Fukushima nuclear disaster is an incident that will forever remain in the hearts of millions of people around the world. To the Japanese, the accident remains a major environmental issue that the state is still dealing with, up to today.

In March 2013, the Fukushima Nuclear plant was disabled. However, there are still problems related to the accident that is still plaguing the environment. A report dated August 2013 revealed that radioactive water was leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the plant.

Air pollution was a serious problem with the Japanese government in the 20th century. Despite this impending challenge, thorough and aggressive policies have changed the story of this island sovereign state. The cities of Japan have been designated by World Health Organization (WHO) as having the cleanest urban air on the planet.

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According to a 2010 report, there are indications as noted by OECD that Japan has made significant progress in environmental issues through the implementation of a series of aggressive strategies. The OECD indicated that distinct improvement was made regarding water usage, air emission and waste management by the municipal.

Another indication as revealed by the OECD report is that the state has embraced an encompassing approach and abandoned the strict ecological model of sustainable development. This conscious move means the government’s new plan will identify and connect with social values, economic growth and environmental protection on another level.

Both the 2009 New Growth Strategy and the 2006 Third Basic Environment Plan did place much emphasis on the need to have a model that has the connections as mentioned above. The proper strategy for a sustainable society in Japan is also described as the kind that encompasses:

  • Smart material-cycle measures
  • Low-carbon economy
  • A state of equilibrium in the use of natural resources

Also, it came to the attention of the OECD that Japan had implemented aggressive strategies to achieve a sustainable economy but in the process forgot about establishing a central administrative body that can pull and hold together the policy threads put in place.

In the 2008 Group of Eight Summit held in Hokkaido, fighting climate change was a top priority in Japan. Additionally, the state also championed for environmental issues on a global scale.

Japan Investing In Clean Technology

As revealed by the International Energy Agency report, Japan has firmly supported investment in research and development in a move to adopt clean technology. The issue gained momentum during the Fukushima Nuclear disaster when the government began to shut down some of its nuclear reactors.

Japanese Photovoltaic Power Plant

Japanese Photovoltaic Power Plant

The invention if the LED lights, which took place in Japan, was a significant breakthrough. As indicated by a Fortunate report, it enabled the Japanese businesses to cut down on electric energy consumption by 40%. Komatsu, which is Japanese leading Heavy Machinery Manufacturer, leads by example.

In a period of 3 years, the company was able to save 40% of energy costs by using underground water coolers, installing power panels and using clean manufacturing technology.

Clean Future For The Japanese

Regarding economic development, Japanese is regarded as one of the most prosperous and modern nations in the world. Over the past years, the country has responded so aggressively to air pollution and the dangers posed by the devastating nuclear plant disasters.

It appears, the only obstacles standing on the way to adopting clean technology are political interference and state bureaucracies. However, it is expected that Japan will continue to emphasize the importance of adopting clean technology on a global scale.

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